Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: The Heir of Buckingham by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

It is time to take a look at the fourth and last part of Paul Féval and M. Lassez's The Years Between series, called The Heir of Buckingham. The series stars the famous characters originally penned by Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Rostand: d'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac. The events of the series take place in-between Dumas' The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, in 1641.

As this is a four part series, this review will necessarily spoil some of the events taking place in the first three parts. However, I try to keep these at minimum. Feel free to jump to the last paragraph if you are worried.

Cavalier Tancrêde, a sixteen-year-old youth of fast reflexes and sawdust for brains, is heading to England to try to find out the secret of his past. He is accompanied by Cyrano and other friends who are as ignorant of who he is as he is himself, but also d'Artagnan is on his tail, having promised to the Queen that he would protect the boy.

D'Artagnan soon bumps into an old friend, Aramis, who is presently the minister of one of France's regiments and it turns out that Aramis is surprisingly knowledgeable of young Tancrêde and his past and wants to accompany d'Artagnan as they had to England to save him from the fate that he is blindly heading to. But, as they need to keep certain things secret, they end up fighting Cyrano and his friends who believe d'Artagnan to be a spy for the Cardinal. The events later lead them to Scotland and the final showdown and revelations.

The last part of the series is surprisingly strong: unexplainable coincidences are almost absent for the first time, the tension builds up and emotions are roiling. The characterisations are almost perfect, the only failing being when we first meet Aramis, whose drunken behaviour is so much NOT how Aramis acts in Dumas' original that it begs the question whether the authors mixed up Aramis with Athos or Porthos. But this only affects the very first moments of Aramis' presence on the pages and is almost easy to ignore.

Overall, this was the strongest book in the series and a worthy finale to the story, actually managing to improve the average 3.5/5 rating that I was going to give it. I look forward to reading Paul Féval's later stories starring d'Artagnan and de Bergerac.